Your Renewable Energy Choices: Maine Green Power and Community Solar

Opportunities to support renewable energy in Maine are plentiful and allow you to make a meaningful and positive impact on the environment. With these opportunities also come choices, which at times can be confusing and overwhelming. Comparing features like cost, environmental impact, and billing methods may help you better understand the program differences and make an informed choice.

To assist you in making your clean energy choice, we’ve offered a comparative analysis of Maine Green Power and Community Solar programs highlighting the features that are most important to customers.

Maine Green Power

Maine Green Power is sponsored by the Maine Public Utility Commission and is available to customers of Maine’s two investor-owned utilities, CMP and Versant Power. When you sign up for Maine Green Power, you’ll pay a small additional fee on your utility bill each month to support Maine-made renewable energy. Those funds are used to purchase renewable energy certificates (RECs) from renewable energy facilities right here in Maine.

RECs are an important tracking mechanism and ensure that electricity from facilities like wind farms, solar farms, or hydro plants is delivered to the regional power system. When enrolled in Maine Green Power, the RECs purchased by the program are retired on your behalf, which means you can claim the environmental benefits from the renewable energy that you supported financially. We publish an Annual Report showing the exact facilities supported and the number of RECs purchased and retired through this program.

Electricity from these renewable energy facilities reduces the need for electricity generated from non-renewable sources like fossil fuels, creating measurable environmental benefits. You purchase “blocks” to match your home or business’s consumption and those funds are used to support the generation of renewable energy in Maine.

This program works as an add-on to your electricity bill, whether you are a CMP or Versant customer. There is no interruption in service, no change to your electricity supply, and you can cancel at any time.

Community Solar

Starting in 2019, a new type of solar development in Maine, referred to as Community Solar, offers customers the opportunity to share in the costs and benefits of renewable energy.

Community Solar allows you to support the development of solar projects in Maine, in exchange for credits, which result in a discount on your CMP or Versant bill.

Under this program, customers who choose to subscribe receive kilowatt-hour (kWh) credits on their electric utility bill that reduce the amount of the payment owed to their electricity provider. There is typically an additional energy delivery service charge and at times, a longer-term contract is required.

The RECs generated from the solar facility are either held by the owner of the facility or more commonly are sold on the open REC market, analogous to the stock market, as a means to help finance the solar development. Whether the RECs are sold or not is determined by your agreement with the solar developer or the administrator of the Community Solar program. Whoever owns the RECs holds the rights to the environmental benefits of the renewable energy that’s been generated, e.g. avoided emissions or a reduced carbon footprint. For example, if an energy provider needs to contract electricity from a coal plant to meet the energy demands of their customers, it may purchase the RECs from a solar generator, and claim the environmental benefits of the renewable attributes associated with the RECs.

In the case of Maine’s Community Solar facilities, we are not aware of any facility that retires RECs on behalf of its solar subscribers, so the subscribers cannot claim any environmental benefits from participating in the program.

Which renewable energy program is right for you?

 Maine Green PowerCommunity Solar
CostAdditional fixed monthly cost starting at $4.95/month (you choose the level of participation)Varies, but could be up to 15% total energy bill savings
BillingAdditional line item on your existing CMP or Versant utility bill – no extra bills or hidden fees.Participants receive two separate bills – one from either CMP or Versant with credits for solar energy, and one from the community solar provider.
Term lengthNo commitment or contract – cancel anytimeCould be a minimum contract length
Delivery ChargeNo extra delivery chargesIncludes extra delivery charges
REC retirementRECs are retired on your behalf, so you can claim environmental benefits.RECs are not retired on your behalf, so environmental benefits are not yours to claim.
Sponsored by MPUCYesNo


Both Community Solar and Maine Green Power are beneficial because they both support demand for and generation of renewable energy, just in different ways. Customers looking for the best of both worlds could actually enroll in both programs and get the bill savings of Community Solar with the environmental benefits of the RECs with Maine Green Power.

Whichever path to renewable energy you choose, you’ll be contributing to the important goal of reducing your environmental impact and preserving the planet for generations to come.

If you’d like to dive even deeper, here are some additional resources:

13 Tips for Green Apartment Living Directly From Experts

This article first appeared on Redfin’s blog.

Switching to greener alternatives is a great way to live a sustainable life, especially with Earth Day approaching. There are many ways to be environmentally cautious while living in an apartment.

Most apartment complexes offer compost and recycling bins and there are many alternatives to things you use every day. To help you get started, we reached out to green experts to share their tips on how to live a sustainable lifestyle in an apartment. So whether you’re trying to live a more environmentally friendly life in your apartment in Boulder, CO, or your studio in New York, NY, read on to see what they had to say.

1) Ways to recycle when your apartment doesn’t offer the service
About 20 billion plastic water bottles wind up in landfills each year or are incinerated. Recycling those plastic bottles and aluminum cans helps the environment, and in some states like California, put some cashback in your pocket. Some apartment complexes don’t have separate recycling available for the residents so recyclable items end up in the trash and ultimately, in the landfills. Here are a few ways to recycle if your apartment complex doesn’t offer to recycle.

  1. Contact companies to pick up your cans and bottles from your door.
  2. Walk your recyclables down separately if your building has a designated recycling room.
  3. Ask friends who have access to curbside recycling if you could bring the recycling with them.
  4. Bring your recycling to a drop point or recycling center.
  5. Ask your landlord to get curbside recycling or set up a recycling area and get signatures from other people in your building.
  6. Bring it to work and use the office recycling pick up.

Recycle From Home™

2) Be conscientious of where you live
Transportation has a big environmental impact, so choosing where to live can be a really important moment in your sustainability journey; it’s your opportunity to design a life where you can walk and bike more and drive less. Here’s a fun exercise I like to use when shopping for a new house or apartment:

  1. Grab a map and draw dots on the map to mark the places you need to visit often (for example, your work, the kids’ schools, your favorite grocery stores, restaurants, coffee shops, the public library – whatever is most important to you). Hopefully, these are clustered in one area of the map. If not, start with the most important cluster and repeat this exercise multiple times.
  2. Use a string and a pencil to draw two circles, with your cluster of dots at the center; one that represents 1 mile and another that represents 3 miles; you should, of course, choose distances that feel right to you and your walking/biking lifestyle. If public transportation is an option, draw a third circle to represent your reasonable commute on public transportation.
  3. These circles represent the best areas for you to live. If you had to do this for multiple clusters, look for overlapping circles that will allow you to live in one place, yet walk, bike, or take public transportation to your most important/frequent destinations.

Carbon Free Family

3) Planning is a crucial part of a sustainable lifestyle
There are so many fantastic tips for reducing food waste from adding kitchen rolls to your bags of salad leaves extending their freshness by up to 4 days to keeping your spring onions in a glass of water and placing them near your kitchen window – this allows you to clip them as you need them and have them grow back in between. But the most important thing is ‘Planning’, plan your meals for the week in advance of going shopping. Then check what food you currently have and after that only buy what you need for the planned meals. Lastly, the freezer is your friend. If you have too much food, freeze it instead of letting it go to waste. – Foodie Save

4) Composting companies can aid you on your journey
Managing your own composting system in an apartment can be difficult. Some companies provide a 5-gallon bucket with an easy-to-remove, but tight sealing lid for you to store your food scraps, and can even empty it for you. – Circle Compost 

5) Simple switches can make a big difference
We believe you don’t have to switch up your entire life to live more sustainably in an apartment. Simple swaps like replacing your shower head for a water-saving version, switching out your soap products for low/zero waste alternatives, or starting a worm composting bin on your patio for your food waste can all make apartment living a little greener. By being informed consumers and utilizing our purchasing power in sustainable ways, we can co-create a healthier, more abundant planet. – Heal the Planet

6) Use reusable food wraps to preserve leftovers
Use reusable food wraps for long-lasting produce. Learn veggie revival tips, recipes that preserve or celebrate seasonal favorites, and how to cultivate a scrappy kitchen ecosystem that alchemizes trash into treasure – like turning a freezer full of peels into stock, excess herbs into pesto, leftover berries, and kale into smoothie cubes, the last of this-n-that into salad dressing. Whatever your imagination dreams up to rise to the challenge of no leaf left behind. – Z Wraps

Photo courtesy of Z Wraps

7) Be mindful of your surroundings and ‘unplug’
We believe living a more sustainable life means being more aware of the entire energy ecosystem around you, and making little decisions that can have a big impact. This can be as simple as ‘unplugging’ literally and figuratively. For example, designate a special time of each day (or week) and commit to shutting off smartphones, computers, and the TV to enjoy some low-tech time out. Shutting down over time adds up. Chargers, even without being attached to a phone or device, still draw between 0.1 and 0.5 watts per hour.  – Pink Energy

8) Keep your compost and plants bug-free
We understand that keeping things sustainable and hassle-free isn’t always easy, so take advantage of their simple sustainable solutions to common problems: Pest products can tackle fruit flies for those kitchen composters out there.  – Aunt Fannie’s

9) Switch to eco-friendly kitchen accessories
Each of us has a moral responsibility to be environmentally friendly by reducing waste and conserving our planet’s precious resources. One simple solution is to get rid of the single-use plastic products and switch to compostable products in your kitchen. You can start by using eco-friendly dinnerware such as plant-based cups, plates, straws, and cutlery composting help break down organic materials and turn them into rich soil, without harming the environment with chemicals or filling up the landfills. – Greenchain Compostables

10) See if your building provides EV charging equipment
Your apartment is a reflection of you, like your commitment to a sustainable lifestyle and your decision to drive an electric vehicle. Make a statement by living where that commitment is shared by your fellow residents and building owners too. Look for EV charging equipment and talk to the building management about valuable utility incentives and potential carbon credits for adding charging. – Tracy K. Price, CEO of Qmerit.

11) Reduce your plastic waste with biodegradable bags
We feel one of the best ways to live a sustainable apartment life is to reduce your plastic waste by looking for re-usable plastic products or non-plastic products, recycle what can’t be reused, look for products with the least amount of wasteful packaging, and supporting companies with a sustainable environmental mission. And when you do throw away garbage use biodegradable bags. – BagUps

12) Be an eco-conscious consumer
Limited space in apartment living can be a real struggle. For anyone pursuing a sustainable lifestyle, my advice is to adopt the mindset of an eco-conscious consumer. This mindset begins by minimizing your possessions. It’s easier to get organized when you get back to the basics, plus life gets simpler. You would be amazed how uncluttered the mind can become just by decluttering the physical space surrounding you. Next, when shopping and acquiring new possessions, commit to donating one or two items for every new thing you bring into your space. This mindset will help you choose quality over quantity and think before buying. – ECO CRATES of America

13) Support renewable energy
Whether you rent or own an apartment, anyone can easily reduce their carbon footprint by supporting renewable energy from sources that replenish themselves naturally — like wind, water, sun, or forests. There can be affordable ways to reduce your environmental impact. In states like Maine, you are able to support renewable energy by matching your electricity use with no-emission 100% Maine-made clean energy. – Maine Green Power

Maine Green Power